RECENTLY a missionary couple, Jehovah’s Witnesses, were caught up in the frightful massacre that struck the city of Kolwezi, Zaïre. The assault on the city was apparently made by Communist-backed tribesmen, and at first they seemed content to frighten the whites by firing at the tops of the houses. Many whites barricaded themselves in their homes, but their assailants later went on a rampage of looting, drinking, raping and killing, which turned the town into a scene of utter carnage. A horrible week of terror ended with the arrival of the French Foreign Legion on May 19, and Belgian paratroopers the following day. It was estimated that some 200 whites and 700 blacks died in the slaughter.
How did the Witness couple make out? For seven days they sheltered in their home behind a barrier of cartons of Bible literature, and with cartons, mattresses and pillows shielding the windows. Shells and shrapnel flew all around. Their house became a shambles, but they survived to be flown out to Kinshasa. Though themselves only slightly wounded, the strain had been so great on the wife, about six months pregnant, that she gave birth prematurely to a baby boy. Not fully developed for life outside his mother’s womb, he survived for only four days. The parents were comforted, however, by the knowledge that he will live again on a much more pleasant earth, and also by the hope that they themselves may survive this age of terrorism to welcome him back in that paradise.—Luke 23:43; John 5:28, 29.
THE MENACE OF TERRORISM
Look where you will on this earth today—terrorism is raising its ugly head. Terrorists have overthrown democracies in the Americas. Thousands have died as a result of terrorist feuding between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. In Japan, militant terrorists delayed the opening of Tokyo’s new international airport for five years. Palestinian guerrillas continue their fight against Israel, even killing people by the busload. In Germany and in Italy there have been kidnap-murders, climaxed in Rome by the cruel killing of former premier Aldo Moro.
Then there is the terror that daily walks the streets in many of the large cities on earth. Muggings, thefts, rapings and murders have become everyday occurrences. Few people really feel safe anymore. Yes, terrorism is on the rampage around the globe.
One weekly periodical described the situation as an “epidemic of violence.”* In an interview, it quoted “a leading authority on terrorism,” Walter Laquer, as saying:
“Today’s terrorists differ from their counterparts of the past in one very important respect. . . . The terrorists of the 19th century were selective. . . . Today’s terrorism has become indiscriminate—far more brutal than in the past. Terrorists leave a bomb in a supermarket and couldn’t care less who gets killed. You see, the period up to the first World War was, on the whole, more humane. I’m sorry to say that human life has become cheaper in our time—partly as a result of the experience of mass killing of the first and second World Wars. Also, we now have these philosophers of violence who did not exist in the 19th century—people who argue that violence is wonderful, that it does things for you psychologically, that we really need violence.”
Mr. Laquer also warned of the possibility of terrorists getting hold of weapons of “superviolence,” whereby they might destroy a whole country, including families, friends and enemies—everyone!
WHY THE EPIDEMIC?
Note that the above-quoted authority states that this era of inhuman, brutal terrorism got under way as a result of the first world war. The epidemic of violence has continued ever since. This is of particular interest to students of the Bible, for Jesus himself, in speaking of ‘the sign of his presence and of the conclusion of the system of things,’ foretold as “a beginning of pangs of distress” that ‘nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom’—total warfare engulfing the world. This, Jesus said, would be followed by an ‘increase of lawlessness’ and “fearful sights . . . while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.”—Matt. 24:3, 7, 8, 12; Luke 21:10, 11, 26.
Jesus indicated that these frightening events would be part of the sign that he, as “the Son of man,” is present on his glorious throne in the heavens, to judge the nations and peoples of earth, and to execute the wicked. Evidently, we have been in that time of judgment since the epidemic of terrorism got started in 1914.—Matt. 25:31-33, 41, 46.
The philosophy of violence has certainly come to the fore since 1914, marking this century as far more terrifying than the preceding centuries. However, it is of interest that there was a similar age of violence and terror more than four millenniums ago. That was in Noah’s day. The Bible describes it in these words:
“The earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and the earth became filled with violence. So God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.”—Gen. 6:11, 12.
The violent ones back there were principally the powerful hybrid offspring of daughters of men and disobedient spirit sons of God, who materialized on earth. These offspring were called “Nephilim,” meaning “fellers”—“mighty ones” who terrorized mankind. (Gen. 6:4) They triggered an era of violence comparable to what we see in the earth today. That wicked generation refused to heed Noah’s warning of coming destruction. As Jesus stated in the above-quoted prophecy: “They took no note until the flood came and swept them all away.” And Jesus made clear that his ‘presence as the Son of man’ would be for the purpose of executing a like judgment upon the wicked generation at the world’s end.—Matt. 24:37-39.
HOW WILL IT END?
That the age of terrorism will come to its own violent end is clearly made known in many Bible prophecies. (Jer. 25:31-33; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; 2 Pet. 3:5-7) But this will not be through terrorist men or nations getting to use weapons of “superviolence,” in order to destroy the earth or parts of it. Rather, it will be through the action of Christ Jesus, who loves mankind and has real interest in delivering lovers of righteousness from the terrors of our age. That is why, after describing the nations’ “anguish” due to the terrors of our day, Jesus speaks these encouraging words:
Yes, it is time for all lovers of righteousness among oppressed mankind to lift up their heads in anticipation of happy times ahead. It was strong faith in God, together with the hope of a paradise earth and the resurrection of the dead that sustained faithful missionaries during that terrible experience in Zaïre. Faith in God’s promises continues to sustain devoted servants of God wherever they are serving in this violent earth. May it sustain you, too, in surviving this age of terrorism into ‘a new earth where righteousness is to dwell.’—2 Pet. 3:13.
U.S. News & World Report, May 22, 1978, pp. 35, 36.